Israel’s Best Interests
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
The President’s interview on Monday with Jeffrey Goldberg, national correspondent for the Atlantic Magazine—but in this instance writing in his Bloomberg Views Column–has already been used to charge the President with interfering in the forthcoming Israeli elections. The specific feelings Obama apparently expressed suggest he was beyond being exasperated with the right–wing, hard-line, non-negotiating posture of the current Government; which will likely be succeeded after next Tuesday’s election by an even stronger right wing Government. Aside from the terrible personal chemistry between Netanyahu and Obama, there is a sense expressed here of a growing frustration with Israeli positions which appear likely inevitably to lead to a one state solution.
The interview exploded into a series of directions all of which attacked the President, Goldberg, and the allegations that Goldberg suggested Obama made about Netanyahu and his Government. The problem is that there are many people who agree with the President’s charges and they are not all crazy, left-wing fanatics.
If following the election Bibi does not develop a meaningful alternative to his more of the same policy on settlements and treatment of the Palestinians, then the marginalization of Israel on the world stage will grow even rapidly, regardless of what insanity spews forth in the Arab world. Israel still has the time now to demonstrate a willingness to offer compromises to the Palestinians—even knowing that they are likely to be totally rejected. Israel’s safety and security at this time is at a prime state—excluding the potential existential threat from Iran. It could use the post-election moment to try a maneuver like Menachem Begin’s surprise invitation to Sadat to come to Jerusalem. It will be interesting to see if Netanyahu has the courage to step out of a box and demonstrate true diplomatic and political leadership. He might be very surprised at how much of his own country, let alone the world, will rally to his side.